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  • #2257221

    Does your company require a pre-employment test?


    by geekchic ·

    I am getting ready to fill a position and was wondering if anybody out there requires potential employees to take some type of assessment test? I have given a basic computer skills test the last 4 times that I have filled positions but 2 of the ones that I hired quit after a few weeks and 1 I had to let go because they just couldn’t seem to remember to come to work…duh. The 4th one fortunately has been an absolute blessing to me and enjoys what she is doing!

    So besides an interview and written test what else is there? Do you call references? I haven’t had much luck with doing that either. Seems most people nowadays are afraid to say anything about former employees or even friends because they fear a lawsuit for defamation of character!

    Any ideas?

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    • #3209657

      Depends on the role

      by tig2 ·

      In reply to Does your company require a pre-employment test?

      I frequently interview with other PMs because they can provide a peer based review of my skills to the prospective employer. As there is no way to really test a PM short of the Project+ or PMP, this is the best approach.

      When I am hiring, I try to do much the same. Whiel I don’t find written tests effective, I do find that a peer can give me really good insight to a person’t capabilities.

      Unfortunately, there are flakes everywhere that can interview well. Getting any information from references is hopeless- the only question that you can ask is “is this person eligible for re-hire?” And frankly the answer to that question is worth the price of admission to me. If they aren’t, I want to be wary.

    • #3209655

      I like to invite them to lunch and to play a game of chess.

      by x-marcap ·

      In reply to Does your company require a pre-employment test?

      If they can play for a while it simplifies my choices. I can find out their concentration and their skills at planning…

    • #3209629

      Yes…SKill tests

      by maevinn ·

      In reply to Does your company require a pre-employment test?

      My current place doesn’t but my last place did–I wrote the test for the secretary position as well as for filling my own position when I left. It wsan’t a written thing; more like a lab exam. We gave the test to those applicants that met the job requirements on paper, and used it to reduce the number of people to interview (honestly, if you’re claiming to be in IT and can’t figure out how to use a thumb drive, you shouldn’t be applying). The test was just one factor, and it was very effective for confirming skills they claimed on their resumes that were applicable for the position.

      Some sample questions:
      1. Modify query X to limit the results where value X is in column Y.
      2. Add the following record to Table A.
      3. Create a simple form to display all the records in Table C.

      They were given the database and the query, just had to know the basics.

    • #3209621

      I like the chess game

      by mjd420nova ·

      In reply to Does your company require a pre-employment test?

      Sounds like one I’ll try. We usually use a simple skills test, like working with very small set screws and allen keys. We also use a peer review by having one of the senior people do a simple question and answer sample. Seldom call previous employers as that can be easily tainted. If they don’t work out in the field then we try them on the bench and the last will be the $hit detail, if they can’t hack that then it’s the door. Yeah, there are a few who just can’t seem to show up on time and some who feel they are to good to do the work. Remember, WORK is a four letter word.

    • #3209611


      by oz_media ·

      In reply to Does your company require a pre-employment test?

      BEFORE I leave a company, usually if they offer an anual review, I will request a letter of recommendation…just in case. Many employers will not offer one after you leave, others wil become old on your resume, perhaps out of business or even passed on.

      Get a letter of reference while you still work there. That way even old employers comments will still attract attention.

      I do my resume a lot like a press release, I offer client quotes and sentences from testimonials in my covering letter.

      Company logos on your main resume and you will ALWYA get called back, I normally get about a 90-95% response rate to all resumes I send out, plus I target who I am sending them to.

      As far as pretests, it depends on th ejob.. I find the US far mroe difficult than Canada, here they really focus on WHO you as opposed to WHAT you learned.

      But we do have typing tests for entry level clerical, admin positions but it seems not too much else. the best pretest is always a one on one interview, if properly conducted by the right person and not some HR yahoo without a clue.

    • #3209454

      the most I’ve had to do

      by jck ·

      In reply to Does your company require a pre-employment test?

      For my position with a government contractor:

      -Interviewed with 9 people in 6.5 hours, including tech Q&A with 4 of the S/W engineers
      -Filled out the big-ass government profile doc (SF-72?)
      -Drug screen twice
      -security interview
      -clearance investigation interview
      -lots of benefits paperwork

      Don’t be afraid to ask “out of the box” questions too. Helps someone relax sometimes, and you can throw in a technical one too that helps you see who is a creative thinker.

      I was once, in a programming interview, asked:
      What port would your FTP server use?

      My answer:
      Whatever I set it to.

      Most people say 21, because that is default.

      Don’t look for someone who can answer the standard line of questions. That might help you find someone who is quick on their toes and can think outside what the certification book or textbook told them was the right answer.

    • #3209445

      Book knowledge, not real skill set

      by jimmie.kepler ·

      In reply to Does your company require a pre-employment test?

      We require testing in some areas. Our HR takes care of most of that in pre screening. We ask lots of oral questions during the interview process. Too often we find book knowledge, not real skill set. Sort like a person with paper certification. They can explain the text book solution, but cannot implement the solution with a customer.

    • #3230299

      I’m with you

      by prefbid ii ·

      In reply to Does your company require a pre-employment test?

      My current company only requires skill tests for entry level positions. It’s hard to test senior positions in the same way since everyone’s expertise develops out of their experiences more than out of specific textual knowledge.

      On the other end, I have had to take a 6 hour psychology profile for a position once. It was actually rather interesting and I learned a lot. I’d do that one again some time just to see if I’ve gotten crazier over time.

      Overall, the best method is still the interview. I’m constantly learning better ways to ask questions. I like to ask questions that require problem solving skills, but don’t necessarily have to do with the job that they are applying for. The chess game idea above I think would qualify. I know of other people who like to ask the kinds of questions that you would expect someone at least one position higher to be able to answer — in order to see how close that person is to the next higher position.

      I had one boss who was incredible at interviewing people. I wish I had his skill. He would ask philosophy questions that he seemed to make up on the spot, but somehow they always related to the job being interviewed for.

    • #3230281

      One Clever Way

      by carole-y ·

      In reply to Does your company require a pre-employment test?

      I have had to take written tests during various interviews. I would say at least 25% of all interviews I have been on have had some kind of written test in addition to the interview.

      One employer gave a simple, 4 or 5-question take-home test. It was common problems they have requests for on their network/applications. They hired me, and I later learned that myself and my boss were the only ones who got 100%. I was pretty shocked by that- considering you could take it home and look stuff up!

      …But I thought that was the clever part. In IT, and especially in a partly support/troubleshooting role – you don’t always know the specific answer. But you SHOULD know where to look to find it. So this test basically tested your skill of solving problems with any tools available, kind of like the actual job.

      Example questions were like: What do you do if you get this printing error on your Citrix server?

      I thought it was easy to look up the answer on Citrix’s knowledge base, even though I had never used Citrix before. I included the link in my answer. But apparently not all applicants had common sense!

      I just thought this was preferable to asking random technical questions on the spot. You want to know how the person solves problems, not what rote knowledge they can recall at the moment. Plus it’s simple to come up with – a few questions will tell you what you need to know.

      Hope that helps!

      • #3231366

        re: One clever way …

        by stubby ·

        In reply to One Clever Way

        I too prefer, in the times I’ve interviewed, to find out what process a person goes through to resolve an issue so I always ask scenario based questions.

        I want to see their logic at work, I don’t want them to necessarily tell me the answer.

    • #3230127


      by tony hopkinson ·

      In reply to Does your company require a pre-employment test?

      I’ve took many of them, can be nerve wracking even for an old pro like me.
      If you don’t test, you could end up with someone who hasn’t exactly been factual on their cv. Or with the impression that someone with a string of letters after their name is competent, or worse still relying on a HR or even a recruiter’s recommendation.

      As long as it’s a good test. I remember one where they asked me to name six properties specific to a particular component, or to develop a mini application in an IDE where they’d turned off the help.

      That said, I’ve always understood turning up, to be fairly critical to success, you’d need a polygraph test to get that one pinned down.

    • #3230091

      pre-employment tests aid the recr. process…

      by quarkie68 ·

      In reply to Does your company require a pre-employment test?

      They do not substitute it.

      Don’t mean to criticize but if your recruits fail to remembet to come to work, you probably have missed something in the interview. 🙂

      I do call references when I hire and in fact we insist that we receive at least two of them, one of the last employer and another one from a working colleague.

      You do not mention what kind of position you try to fill in (software development, helpdesk, sysadmin?) because then I could point you to specific test batteries customized for the type of work you are looking to recruit for.

      As for your statement about former employers being afraid of lawsuits, well, I do not agree. If somebody has a nice thing to say about an employee and the employee left in good terms, they would give a nice reference. And again if your recruit left chaos in his last post, well, nobody would write offensive things in the letter, but the letter will either be too typical lacking appraisal, or it will mention facts that can be documented. If you see such a letter, or you see no letter, talk to your recruit and ask him to say if he had any problems in his/her last role, to give him/her a chance. You can gauge the reaction, so you should know whether to walk away or not.

      But for me, the interview is 90% of the process. Practice and develop your interviewing skills. They are the ones that will seperate a good employee that left a bad employer from a bad employee that left a good employer. 🙂

    • #3230082

      Have taken skills assessments

      by nicknielsen ·

      In reply to Does your company require a pre-employment test?

      I once applied for a school district IT position and was given a written assessment. Unfortunately, the district was a Novell shop and I was coming out of an OS/2 Warp environment. (Takes ya back, don’t it? 🙂 ) Didn’t get that one.

      Was also once asked to complete a hands-on skills assessment; this one was fun. I was required to obtain a data signal on an oscilloscope, back in the dark ages before dedicated network analyzers. The evaluator stopped the assessment before I even started the task and told me I was hired because I was the only applicant who actually knew how to set an oscilloscope to use external triggering.

      Concerning your question, I don’t know that there is anything you can do during the hiring process to determine work ethic other than question the interviewee closely and look carefully at work history. I would think that many short-term jobs could indicate a potential problem.

      Edit: sepllcheck

      • #3231394

        logic smogic

        by problemsolversolutionseeker ·

        In reply to Have taken skills assessments

        The best approach that I have seen is a combination of 2 tests – one to test the technical skills required, and the second would be a logic test, which would be universal, that is, independent of the technical skills required.
        (Good IT college programs would be able to provide this test, hopefully!)

    • #3231253

      Test them at the interview

      by don.lemare ·

      In reply to Does your company require a pre-employment test?

      I usually “pop” quiz them at the interview, where they are not expecting it. I ask a few technical knowledge questions, technical situation questions and techical attitude questions to each candidate. It seems to seperate the “wheat” from the “chaff” in a heck of a hurray.

    • #3020301


      by scats67 ·

      In reply to Does your company require a pre-employment test?

      The company I work for does require a test, but it is just a pre-employment drug test. If you are hired, there will also be a random drug test throughout your employment. However, the drug test is a random computer selection so it is possible to be tested a few times a year instead of just once. Our company uses a a Professional Employer Organization to administer these tests since they are sent out to labs to be tested. As for other tests, we do not for certain positions, but if the position applied for is a very guest-oriented position, there will be some sort of test for personality. I think that test is important since the employees in this position need to be friendly and able to handle situations where there may be complaints, etc.

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